OAKLAND — This year, the amount of acreage in Garrett County to be treated for gypsy moths has more than quadrupled because there are beginnings of outbreaks, according to Bob Tatman, program manager of Maryland Department Agriculture Forest Pest Management.
“This year we are getting into an outbreak, the population is expanding very rapidly,” said Tatman. “In the past, there was a fungus that kept the population down.”
The fungus isn’t keeping the gypsy moth population down this year and the population could either crash or continue to expand, said Tatman.
This year, 11,896 acres will be sprayed for gypsy moths in Garrett County with treatment to start most likely around May 20, depending on weather, according to Tatman.
Last year, about 2,500 acres in Garrett County were sprayed for gypsy moths and it was the only county in the state sprayed. That spraying began on May 16.
“Last year was the earliest we have ever sprayed in Garrett County,” said Tatman, who added that, typically, gypsy moth spraying takes place around Memorial Day weekend. “Because of the weather, it’s a different world in Garrett County.”
Also, more counties in Maryland, as well as other states, are being added to the list for gypsy moth suppression.
This year, spraying for gypsy moths will take place in Worcester and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland as well as counties in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to Tatman.
Funding for the spraying comes from a federal, state and county cost-share cooperative.
The federal cost-share is going to be less this year and Tatman expects that the cost for the county will increase.
In addition to fewer federal funds, an increase in the number of acres to be sprayed will cause the cost for the county to increase. For fiscal 2014, the county is recommending $37,00 for gypsy moth suppression.
For fiscal 2013, $37,000 was approved for gypsy moth suppression and it was later amended to $184,325.
The gypsy moth is the most destructive pest of forest and shade trees in Maryland, according to MDA. Large gypsy moth outbreaks have affected hundreds of thousands of acres statewide over the years.
MDA conducts an Integrated Pest Management program to minimize unnecessary losses through monitoring, assessment, information and education, and pest control actions, according to the news release.
In high-infestation areas where die back or mortality cannot be tolerated, MDA will conduct aerial insecticide treatments to protect and preserve the forest and shade trees.
For more information on spraying activities, follow MDA on Twitter @MDGypsyMoth or visit http://mda.maryland.gov/plants-pests/Pages/gypsy_moth_spray_schedule.aspx.
Contact Elaine Blaisdell at email@example.com.